A Fiscal Cliff: New Perspectives on the U.S. Federal Debt Crisis
(Cato Institute, 2020)
Featuring John Merrifield, Professor Emeritus of Economics, the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Business; Barry Poulson, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Colorado Boulder; Chris Edwards (@CatoEdwards), Director of Tax Policy Studies, Cato Institute; moderated by Jason Kuznicki (@JasonKuznicki), Editor, Cato Books and Cato Unbound.
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In 2020, the U.S. federal budget deficit more than tripled, surpassing $3 trillion for the first time ever. That might seem like a far‐off concern, but it shouldn’t.
The editors of A Fiscal Cliff: New Perspectives on the U.S. Federal Debt Crisis call our attention to a problem that has never gone away, one that could easily lead to a catastrophe: How will future generations pay for our profligacy? Better yet, how do we get deficit spending under control? Are there any workable, realistic proposals for balancing the budget or for implementing automatic budget balancing measures? What might happen if we don’t get the exploding federal debt under control?
The U.S. federal government has been in a deteriorating fiscal position since the early 2000s. Meanwhile, several countries including Switzerland and Chile have implemented successful rules‐based debt brakes that have achieved fiscal discipline without political or economic disruption. The contributors to this volume explore their efforts among others as they seek to bring balanced budgets back to Washington.
In this timely volume, scholars and policymakers assess the United States’ fiscal constraints and provide new perspectives that are desperately needed in order to solve the nation’s debt crisis. Previous recommendations focused on the outcomes of fiscal policy but perhaps we should take a step back and ask whether the fiscal and budget process rules themselves should be reformed. The essays in A Fiscal Cliff suggest that “unless we reform our fiscal rules and institutions, we are not likely to solve the debt crisis and restore sustainable fiscal policies.”
While the dominant sentiment is that maybe if we ignore it, it will just go away, the debt crisis will not just vanish. A Fiscal Cliff is a timely addition to a critical policy discussion.